Haitian President Michel Martelly paid a courtesy call on members of the official opposition in the Minority Room of the House of Assembly on Tuesday. Martelly (left) greets Opposition Leader Dr Hubert Minnis. Photo: Ahvia J. Campbell
By Krystel Rolle-Brown
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- The Bahamas government on Tuesday signed three agreements with the Haitian government intended to further trade development between both countries and lead to a decrease in illegal migration.
Prime Minister Perry Christie said it was an historic day.
The agreements include a framework for bilateral cooperation, an agreement on trade and technical cooperation in agriculture and fisheries and an agreement on the promotion and protection of investments.
Both Christie and Haitian President Michel Martelly said the agreements could represent a shift in the migration issue that The Bahamas has struggled with for decades.
“It’s been a great day, a historic day in terms of signing these agreements,” said Christie following talks with the Haitian delegation.
“I think Bahamians can look forward to a much more shared approach to not only protecting our borders, but also to our respective economies,” Christie said.
“We have extended these agreements to ensure that they covered a number of subjects. One of them is that we have approved... the import of agricultural goods from Haiti, which is a major step because as Bahamians would know we would take the same goods grown in Haiti and import them via the United States of America.
“Now we have been able to enter into direct relations with that.”
With respect to trade and investment, Christie said the government has agreed to ensure that bilateral investments are promoted in each country.
He said the government is committed to improving its relations with Haiti.
Martelly said the agreements would ultimately impact the level of migration.
“We are doing something tremendous,” he said. “Immigration has been an issue for the last decades.
“So we could have claimed that it is an inherited issue and distanced ourselves. We have done otherwise. We have been determined to tackle this issue. As a matter of fact, it is happening today.”
Martelly said he hopes that aspects of the trade agreements would take immediate effect.
The Bahamas has a large Haitian population.
The illegal immigration issue remains a pressing concern for Bahamians.
Illegal immigrants continue to strain social services resources and the government spends at least $1 million every year to repatriate Haitians.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian